The Best Books We Read in 2022
By Lauren Jones, Rowan Jackson, Amy Wright and Zoe Doyle
For our final issue of the year, the topical team have chosen to round-up the best books we’ve read in 2022. It was no easy task to narrow down our top picks. Featuring books that will make you laugh, cry, jump for joy and everything in between – we’ve read it all and so much more. Read on to discover our favourites.
Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? is Damilola Blackburn’s debut novel, and I found it to be a truly fantastic read. The story is about Yinka, a thirty-something-year-old British-Nigerian living in London. From great friends to an Oxbridge degree and an impressive career, Yinka almost has it all. Almost. The one thing that she doesn’t have is a “huzband,” much to the disappointment of her mum and aunties. Yinka sets herself the goal of finding a date to bring to her cousin’s wedding so that she’ll be saved from the never-ending cries of “Yinka, where is your husband?”
I chose this book for my best book of 2022 because I loved how believable the characters felt and how the choices they made felt true to the characters – never just as a plot device. Cultural identity and belonging are central themes to this story, and Yinka’s journey towards self-acceptance and self-love is both an emotional and enjoyable read.
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
Burial Rites is a captivating, atmospheric and beautifully written fictionalised depiction of the final executions in Iceland during the 1800s. The book follows Agnes, a woman accused of murder, and the people given the responsibility of taking her in as she awaits her death sentence. Over the course of a stark Icelandic winter, we discover the events leading up to the fateful night of the murder and whether all is as it seems. The ambiguous and empathetic portrayal of Agnes Magnusdottir is one of the most captivating elements of this book; as readers we are fascinated by her and desperate to hear her story.
Hannah Kent has a stunning writing style that is subtle, poetic and incredibly gripping. This book reads like a literary thriller, the fast-paced short chapters and the varying perspectives kept me reading up until late, unable to put the book down. The heart-breaking final pages and the connection I felt to the characters, along with Hannah’s stunning writing, left a massive impact on me. I’ve read so many brilliant books this year, but Burial Rites struck something inside me that only certain books can.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata and translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori
Convenience Store Woman is an intriguing story about thirty-six-year-old Keiko, an enthusiastic and dedicated woman who has worked in the same convenience store for eighteen years, despite judgement from her friends and family. Keiko feels that her job is the only way she can be ‘normal’; she finds comfort in the routine tasks that she carries out in her role and in the manual that tells her how to be a store worker. You may think that not much can happen in a novel set in a convenience store, yet you will read this book not quite knowing what direction the author is going to take next. Out of all the books I read in 2022, Convenience Store Woman stood out to me as I have never read anything quite like it before. I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a short, quirky and addictive read.
Fireborne by Rosaria Munda
How does a society rebuild itself following a revolution, and can people be taught to embrace new ideological values? Nation-building is a messy endeavour, and while many books focus on the act of revolution, Fireborne uniquely explores the struggles of a new regime and the process of dismantling an empire. Intense political intrigue is mixed with moral dilemmas and dragons (which, in my opinion, make any book amazing). Annie and Lee both carry trauma from their pasts: Annie as a lowborn girl whose family were killed by the old ruling class, and Lee as a son of said rulers whose family were murdered by revolutionaries. Despite their differences, they formed a close bond growing up and are both contenders for the top position in the dragon-riding fleet. When threats from the old regime surface, both of them must grapple with their loyalties and how far they are willing to go to fight for them. This book was exciting and nail-biting, with nuanced characters I came to deeply care for. Fans of Red Rising or House of the Dragon will love this trilogy.